CLEVELAND -- This wasn’t the bounce-back the Indians were hoping for.
Cleveland has gotten used to having an answer to every punch that has been thrown its way this season. But on the heels of getting swept by the Tigers in a doubleheader on Wednesday, the Indians didn’t show the same resiliency they’ve had for most of the year in a 7-2 loss to the Astros on Thursday night at Progressive Field. And now, the team has to hope it's not about to lose another everyday player to the injured list.
Just as the Indians got clarification that slugger Franmil Reyes and backstop Roberto Pérez should be in line to get activated off the injured list on Saturday to get the offense nearly back to full strength, left fielder Eddie Rosario was removed from the game with right abdominal tightness. He logged a single in the second inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch, but he was clearly uncomfortable, attempting to stretch out his body while on the bases.
When Rosario returned to the dugout, he said he was experiencing some cramping in his abdominal area. Although the Indians wanted to remain hopeful that it was just cramps, they didn’t want to take any risks, especially not with the injury hurdles they’ve already had to overcome. Rosario was sent to get an MRI to make sure he was OK. As of Thursday night, the club was still waiting to hear the results.
“The last thing we want to do is let somebody take a big swing and it's more than a cramp,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “So he's still over there now. We should get some information later tonight.”
The Indians hope Rosario will be able to return to the lineup in the coming days, avoiding an IL stint. But if that can’t happen, things could get interesting for their outfield. Bradley Zimmer was given a night off Thursday to get his left ankle checked after he experienced some discomfort when running the bases on his triple Wednesday. If both are working through aches and pains, that leaves the team with just Harold Ramirez and Oscar Mercado as healthy regular outfielders.
If that’s the case, the Indians could look to recall Daniel Johnson, the club's No. 18 prospect who had a brief stint in the big leagues already this year. But over his last seven games in Triple-A Columbus, he’s hitting just .179 with a .571 OPS. If Cleveland is looking for someone currently on the 40-man roster, it could try to move Amed Rosario back to the outfield and bring up hot-hitting Andrés Giménez to play shortstop. Outfielder Alex Call has been receiving a lot of attention, but he just got promoted to Triple-A on Tuesday and is not on the 40-man roster.
Although it certainly would help ease the blow of losing Rosario to be able to pencil Reyes back in the lineup, it would still be a loss for this offense overall. Rosario hasn’t been the big-swinging slugger the club expected him to be when it inked him this offseason, but he has still found smaller ways to provide, especially of late.
Entering Wednesday’s doubleheader, Rosario boasted a 14-game hitting streak -- one game shy of his career high -- and hit .321 with an .854 OPS in that span. After a cold night on Wednesday, he picked right back up on Thursday with a single in his first at-bat before he was pulled from the game. Now, all Cleveland can do is wait to see if it will need to figure out a way to overcome yet another hurdle.